By Robin Clutters

Coronavirus is still so new, there are many unknowns, and we know so many of you have questions. That’s why CBSN Denver is featuring a weekly segment called “Q&A with Dr. Dave” with CBS4 Medical Editor Dr. Dave Hnida every Monday at 11 a.m.

(CBS4) – A new report came out last week saying the coronavirus is mutating, and could be more contagious. The study concluded a mutated strain from Europe, which migrated to the East Coast, is more dominant than the original strain from China. Scientists from the National Lab in Los Alamos say the new mutation is more contagious, creates more of the virus inside the body, and can re-infect COVID-19 survivors.

Dr. Dave says the report is not a reason to panic. He points out the study has not yet been published in a scientific journal, and adds all viruses mutate all the time.

“There’s just no evidence that there’s a new, turbocharged strain out there that’s going to end up causing more damage than the one we have right now,” said Dr. Dave. “The strain we do have right now is scary enough. You don’t need to worry that things have gotten worse.”

On Friday, stay-at-home orders were lifted in Denver and most metro-area counties. That means some businesses have been allowed to reopen, including salons. We asked Dr. Dave: Is it safe to get a haircut right now?

“This really depends on you and the salon following certain guidelines,” he said. “The responsibility actually falls on both ends.”

Dr. Dave says it’s important salons limit the number of customers, have a safe amount of distance between chairs, make everyone wear a mask (including customers), and not allow walk-in appointments.

“I think as long as you follow those guidelines, you’ll be in good shape. However, you may want to use the restroom before going to the salon. Anytime you can avoid a public or commercial restroom, that’s a wise thing to do.”

Battelle decontamination technicians talk as they prepare to run a test of one of the new Battelle CCDS Critical Care Decontamination Systems delivered to Colorado by FEMA and HHS on May 8 in Brighton. The decontamination system can process up to 80,000 used N95 respirators per day using vapor phase hydrogen peroxide that kills coronavirus and allows masks to be reused 20 times without degradation.

Battelle decontamination technicians talk as they prepare to run a test of one of the new Battelle CCDS Critical Care Decontamination Systems delivered to Colorado by FEMA and HHS on May 8 in Brighton. The decontamination system can process up to 80,000 used N95 respirators per day using vapor phase hydrogen peroxide that kills coronavirus and allows masks to be reused 20 times without degradation. (credit: Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)

Even with the stay-at-home orders being lifted, restaurants and bars remain closed. Last week, Gov. Jared Polis said the next few weeks will be key in determining when they can reopen. Dr. Dave says cases need to continue to stay down in order for that to happen, and even when restaurants do reopen, he says things will not be the same.

“The important thing for people to remember is that the experience that you had with in-house dining before coronavirus is going to be so different,” said Dr. Dave. “When you take a look at the spread of coronavirus, it really is dependent on how close people are together, and how much time they spend in close proximity.”

With stay-at-home orders being lifted, are doctors concerned about the number of cases rising? Dr. Dave says he’ll be keeping a close eye on what happens over the next two to four weeks, but added, it’s important everyone understands that coronavirus is not going away anytime soon.

“This is not a one time, one shot deal when it comes to social distancing, wearing masks, and closures,” said Dr. Dave. “When you look at the history of pandemics, they tend to be like waves, they come and they go. So even if things go very well at this point in time, the big question is going to be what will things be like as we move into the months ahead?”

Dr. Dave points to the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918. That virus came in waves, with one in the spring, one in the fall, and then one again the following winter. Dr. Dave says we will likely see similar peaks and valleys with coronavirus, which could mean restrictions have to go back in place.

“This is not going to be over with forever quickly. We just don’t know how long it will take before we don’t need to be concerned about it any longer.”

Robin Clutters

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